Monday, October 08 15:02:18
A near-record number of Britons are in work despite a shrinking economy, but new employment has come at the expense of pay and job security, capping any boost to vital consumer spending.
Britain's economic output is now 4 percent lower than in the first quarter of 2008, just before the slump that followed the global financial crisis, while the number of people in work has risen to 29.56 million, close to an all-time high.
But the new jobs, many of which are precarious and low-paid, have failed to encourage consumers to spend, blunting the boost to the economy higher employment normally provides.
Jobs growth may also run out of steam. Disappointing recent data has dimmed hopes of a meaningful economic recovery in Britain, which has been mired in recession since late last year.
For now, thousands of Britons are having to accept either a fall in real income, low job security or having to toil more for the same earnings just to stay in work.
"Wages staying quite low and below inflation prices people into work," said Kevin Green, head of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which represents Britain's recruiters.
"Employers are trying to keep their fixed costs down ... Whereas we used to see lots of temps, flexible working happening in the low-skill, retail, office professionals type-of-activity, we now see that growing in the professional groups."
'Jobs without growth' has been a conundrum for economists in the past year, translating into a steep fall in productivity which even the central bank struggles to make sense of.
Explanations range from inaccurate GDP statistics to the effects of the financial crisis constraining the economy's ability to grow, while debate has focused recently on the kind of jobs being created and what they mean for growth.
Sean Cannon, who set up a business with his brother in 2010 selling British fine foods, is a case in point. He left his job as a youth worker following deep cuts in funding and now works about twice as many hours for a similar income.
Would he still recommend starting a business?
"I'd recommend it if you are prepared to literally give up all of your social life," he said in his small deli, Cannon & Cannon, in the London district of Brixton, where jars of pickled pears and tapenade line the shelves. (C ) Reuters